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Harmful Habits

Originally from our Lent 2020 sermon series, these resources explore harmful habits that have become prevalent in our culture and consider how to counter them with life-giving and godly practices that will both heal us and bless others.

When we become aware of how harmful habits have shaped us, we can easily be overwhelmed by the amount of change we feel compelled to make. With this in mind, prayerfully choose one or two habits from the list below that you feel God is prompting you to address now. We suggest then taking 40 days (the same length of time as a Lenten period) to focus on letting go of the unhealthy pattern so you can take up a healing habit in its place.

Trading Habits that Harm for Habits that Heal

    • Unlearn compulsive spending when you are feeling anxious, especially in regards to food, drink, or other items that offer a false sense of comfort.
    • Unlearn frequent counting of finances as a way of addressing scarcity fears by deleting finance apps or avoiding other methods of counting.
    • Identify ways that ambitions, goals, and always having “another mountain to climb” stir a sense of never being or having enough. Prayerfully reflect on upcoming goals and ask God to identify what is motivating them.
    • Learn to savor God’s blessings through regular or prolonged moments of thanksgiving.
    • Fast from a comfort or luxury item for 40 days (e.g. coffee shops, alcohol, going to the movies, new clothing) and use the money you would have spent on those things to bless someone in need or support a ministry to those in need.
    • Practice simplicity by reviewing your budget to discern how finances can be reallocated away from areas of indulgence (eating out, shopping, travel), and toward areas of hospitality and ministry.
    • Unlearn scanning social media (which inspires comparison and insecurity) when you are bored or getting ready for sleep, by setting a daily time limit or go on a total fast from social media.
    • Unlearn letting envy over the gifts God has given to others manifest as resentment, criticism, or gossip.
    • Learn to let God examine you each night to reveal where you gave into those things, and confess them.
    • Thank God for what you have been given by practicing daily thanksgiving with others or in a journal. Thank God for some of the limits placed on you, and for the gifts God has given others that can be a blessing to you and the world.
    • Instead of beginning your day with a schedule and phone notifications, center on Christ in prayer and indicate your willingness to be directed as God’s servant.
    • As you face problems throughout your day, instead of just engaging your own problem-solving skills and imagination, ask God to direct your thoughts.
    • When you need encouragement or refreshment, instead of turning to food or entertainment, engage in a way to delight in God. Take a walk, encourage someone else, or enjoy that food and entertainment mindfully as a gift from God.
    • Instead of doing life solo, find people to give mutual encouragement and reorienting questions, like, “How is God engaging with you today?”
    • Often, feeling busy is not necessarily that we have too many tasks, but that we carry too many emotional burdens alone. Make sure you’re connecting to another human on a regular basis who understands and sees you! Try building a 30-minute connection with someone who can speak God’s love to you every week during the 40 days you are taking to unlearn your unhealthy habit.
    • Are there places where the wounds of broken relationships are taking up your emotional energy? Unreconciled relationships take up a lot more of our capacity than healthy ones. Commit to praying for the healing power of the Spirit in those relationships daily, and lean into your relationships with vulnerability.
    • Build a repeatable pattern of rest into your life, like Jesus did! There’s a way that we work so hard that we crash, but real rest gets us ready for the work of following Jesus and building his Kingdom here. If you don’t have a Sabbath where you disconnect from your phone, email, work and intentionally connect to the Giver of Life, try putting that into place.
    • If every second of your day, week, month, etc., is planned, it makes it hard to pivot when God invites you to a new relationship, or challenges you to follow the Spirit. Try to create an hour or 30 minutes of “free” time every day. Don’t fill it with more work, but see how God might fill it with relationship — to nature, to another person, to your own self — and bless that time.
    • Unlearn the need to manufacture an image through social media and résumé-building by fasting from social media.
    • Unlearn keeping such a busy schedule that prohibits time for relationships by intentionally creating space for cultivating relationships with others over a meal or another activity. Set a goal to do this once per week (or another number that feels right).
    • Join a service team or ministry so that you may form relationships by being on mission together.
    • Move beyond shallow relationships by identifying one friend or family member and initiating conversation around how you are really doing, what God is stirring in your life, and how they can pray for you. Invite them to share as well.
    • Unlearn mindlessly scanning social media or porn whenever you are bored, tired, lonely, or spiritually unsettled. Refuse to view porn and only use social media when you have a specific task in mind, in order to avoid endless scrolling.
    • Learn to never check your devices in the presence of others.
    • Learn to create time and space for listening to God each day and each week.
    • Instead of using social media to avoid feeling uncomfortable emotions, set aside regular time for silence in which you ask the Holy Spirit to speak to you through your emotions and about what you are feeling.
    • Learn to embrace stillness not as boredom, but as an opportunity to listen to God.